Directed by Bruce McCulloch
Starring: Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell, Elaine Hendrix, Harland Williams, Glynis Johns.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sex-related humor and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan
October 8, 1999

Here I am, two weeks after the American release of Dog Park, and I'm reviewing yet another film directed by Bruce McCulloch. The member of "The Kids in the Hall" left me thoroughly unimpressed with his debut, and now I have to endure his attempt at a "Saturday Night Live" spin-off. I think Lorne Michaels must hate the public now that "SNL" is entering its 25th season. Why else would he abuse us so?

In this film, Molly Shannon transports her popular "SNL" character Mary Katherine Gallagher to the big screen. Mary is an outcast at her Catholic high school, but dreams to be a "superstar", like her idols in the movies. She has a crush on Sky Corrigan (Will Ferrell), the football captain who is going out with Evian (Elaine Hendrix), the head cheerleader.

In her quest to achieve superstardom and the affection of Sky, Mary auditions for a talent show. The winner gets a trip to Hollywood, and a chance to appear as an extra in a movie. But wait! What about her grandmother (Glynis Johns), who doesn't want her to enter? Does Mary really want Sky, or is it with Slater (Harland Williams) that she will find true happiness? Does anybody care enough to sit through an incredibly long 90 minutes?

Well, the 10-year-olds in the audience did. In fact, it really seemed to hit a chord with them, and they haven't even gone to high school yet! Obviously, something is wrong here. There really isn't much in Superstar that would appeal to the post-pubescent demographic. After the some of the obligatory gags from the "SNL" skits, there isn't anything for Mary to do except to repeat enough jokes until the film can qualify for feature length.

McCulloch manages to prove that he is still not a capable director. With jokes as thin as these, the direction needs to compensate by setting a good pace. Instead, the film drags on, and it completely unravels. Even such talented comedians as Shannon, Ferrell, and Williams can't manage to keep it interesting. Johns is wasted, of course, and she even has to use some shockingly coarse language for a PG-13 movie. At least she wasn't as dirty as Betty White in Lake Placid.

There is a small amount of improvement from Dog Park, but it's most likely due to the script and more likeable stars. Mary Katherine Gallagher is an established character, so she doesn't have to sell herself for this film. That is unfortunate, because I was beginning to forget why she was funny.

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Superstar (1999)

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Review © 1999 Matt Heffernan